Equipment Training: How to Incorporate Effective Demonstrations

Equipment Training: How to Incorporate Effective Demonstrations

Having a workplace trainer(s) on staff is beneficial in many ways: it gives the employer greater flexibility while reducing training costs, increasing compliance, and making training-record management less complicated. Workplace training also gives you the chance to train directly in the environment in which the work will take place. This presents a unique opportunity for equipment trainers to incorporate demonstrations into their training sessions.

Adult learning theory suggests that learning is more effective and lessons are better retained when the learner has the chance to do what is being taught. What better way to connect a classroom lesson to the work than to demonstrate how what is being taught is applied to the job? Sometimes, safety lessons get lost in translation, as learners have a hard time reconciling how safe operations won’t somehow impact their productivity. Effective demonstrations give the workplace trainer the chance to illustrate how safe practices don’t impede productivity, and in many cases, can enhance it.  A demonstration may also provide the opportunity to drive home how quickly things can turn deadly, and why safe operating principles are in place.

How to Incorporate Effective Demonstrations

Some workplace trainers struggle with demonstrations, and it’s no wonder — they aren’t easy. An effective demonstration is more than just hopping on a machine and showing learners how to operate. In order to make it effective, you need to demonstrate the why behind the action. To incorporate effective demonstrations in your training, consider the following:

Plan Demonstrations in Advance

Consider what you hope to accomplish with the demonstration. If you wish to show proper shoulder-check technique, the correct way to manoeuvre a slope, or how to navigate a particularly narrow aisle that’s troublesome, be prepared and know exactly what you want to show. Be ready to explain to learners both why you are showing them this procedure and why you are doing it that way you are. From an administrative and safety stand-point, planning ahead will also ensure that equipment you want to use will be available and that the shop floor will have space and be free of pedestrians or other potential hazards.

Be Descriptive

Don’t just hop on a piece of equipment and complete a movement. Be descriptive. Describe the scenario for learners before you start. Explain how and why the equipment being demonstrated is being used. Stop frequently to describe what’s coming next.

Get Learners Involved

Provided it is safe to do so, ask for volunteers! Getting the learners involved will significantly increase retention. When asking for volunteers, people may be hesitant—overcome this by explaining very clearly beforehand what it is the volunteers will be doing. Will they be repeating the action you just demonstrated? Will they have a role in the scenario that somehow impacts the outcome? Keep safety in mind. Never put a volunteer in a situation that could become unsafe.

Bring Attention to the Specifics

If you’re showing something specific, such as how to safely raise and lower an irregular-shaped load, be sure that you call attention to what to watch and listen for. If you want the learners to focus on how you approach the load, but you don’t say so, they may be caught up in watching what hand-controls you’re using, or how fast you’re going.

End the Demonstration with a Talk

Once the demonstration has taken place, head back to the classroom or talk on the shop floor if it’s safe. Discuss what learners have just seen. Have them describe the different aspects of what was shown, or name certain safe or unsafe acts that were completed. It’s important that you allow questions about what learners observed. Answer them to the best of your ability. Close by recapping what was included in the demonstration, and why you chose to show it. Use the re-cap to bridge into whatever is next on the agenda, or the next demonstration if there is another one planned.


Demonstrations are an effective training tool. When it is possible to work them into training, it is recommended, as it helps learners retain important safety concepts. Additionally, adult learners learn better when they see how a theoretical lesson can be applied to the actual work, especially if it helps to make the work more efficient. With that in mind, demonstrations can be an excellent way to show workers how safety can be used to make work more efficient, and why safe operations should be a priority for all equipment operators.

Did you know that OSG has trained over 5000 successful workplace trainers? Trainers learn to deliver dynamic and effective programs when they take any of OSG’s Train-the-Trainer courses, which include a mandatory Train-the-Trainer Day where participants learn about adult learning techniques and effective program design.

Let us help you train your workplace trainer. View our Train-the-Trainer courses today, or, if you have any questions call 1-800-815-9980 to speak to a Health and Safety expert.

Train-the-Trainer Courses

Written by Jennifer Miller | Curriculum Development Coordinator

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